Samsung has just launched the Galaxy Note 8, one of the most eagerly anticipated smartphones of the year.
It’s the follow-up to the Note 7, the world’s most infamous smartphone, which had to be recalled twice after models started catching fire. It was, of course, eventually discontinued.
Samsung, therefore, has a lot more riding on its new device than usual. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
Design and display
The Note 8 features the same “all-screen” design as the S8 and S8+, which came out earlier this year. It’s an attractive, striking look that makes most other phones on the market look old.
It also makes rival handsets look small. The Note 8 has a monstrous 6.3-inch, Quad HD+ Super AMOLED screen. For context, the iPhone 7 Plus – currently the biggest version of the iPhone – features a 5.5-inch display.
Thanks to its extremely thin bezels, the Note 8 is actually very compact considering its screen size, but still measures in at a finger-stretching 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6mm. Once again, for context, the iPhone 7 Plus is 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1mm.
Its screen is also curved, which give it added visual appeal, and it’s available in a range of attractive colour schemes: black, blue, grey and gold. Unfortunately, the blue and grey versions aren’t available to UK consumers.
The Note 8 comes with a lot of bells and whistles, including a microSD card slot, which you can use to boost the 64GB of onboard storage, a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, iris- and face-scanning tech and even a headphone jack.
It’s also IP68-rated, which means it’s resistant to dust and water.
Under the hood is an octa-core processor paired with 6GB of RAM, which makes it a very powerful handset indeed, ideal for multi-tasking and heavy use.
It runs Android 7.7.1 Nougat – it’s almost certain to receive the Android 8.0 Oreo update in the near future – but it isn’t a pure version of the operating system. Samsung has added a number of extra features, some of which are designed to help you take full advantage of that massive screen.
App Pair, for instance, lets you group two apps together and open them both at the same time with a single tap of your finger. They appear in a split-screen view, allowing you to do things like watch a YouTube video and look at directions on Maps at the same time, for example.
Google Assistant is on board too, living alongside Bixby, Samsung’s own virtual assistant that’s only just launched properly in the UK.
Unfortunately, Samsung has also included bloatware in the form of its own versions of some of Google’s most popular apps, including a browser and an email service most people are unlikely to ever use.
The Note brand’s trademark feature is the S-Pen, a stylus that’s designed to help you get work done. If you’ve got small hands, it can also make the enormous Note 8 easier to handle.
Samsung says the new S-Pen – which is also water- and dust-resistant – is more pressure-sensitive and has a finer tip than older versions. You can use it to write and draw on the Note 8’s screen, and you can slot it into a special hole in the phone’s bottom edge when you don’t need it.
One of its most useful features is the ability to write notes without turning on the Note 8’s screen first, and pin them to the lock screen. It’s ideal for writing and maintaining shopping lists, for instance.
It also lets you hover over text to translate it.
A major talking point for the Note 8 is its dual camera setup. It combines a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with an f2.4 aperture with a 12-megapixel wide-angle sensor with an f1.7 aperture.
Samsung has included optical image stabilisation and a feature called Live Focus, which lets you tinker with depth of field and adjust bokeh both within the camera app and after you’ve taken a photo.
We’ve seen something similar with the Huawei P10, but it’s still a fun new addition that many users will likely experiment with.
On the front of the phone, meanwhile, is an 8-megapixel selfie camera with an f1.7 aperture.
Battery issues were to blame for the spectacular downfall of the Note 7, and in truth there’s no way of knowing whether or not the Note 8 will be completely safe until it’s been on the market for a while.
The S8 and S8+, which followed the Note 7, haven’t suffered from any battery issues and Samsung has talked up its new eight-point battery safety process repeatedly.
The company will have taken the greatest amount of care to ensure everything works as it should, and it would be hugely, hugely surprising to see it repeat the same mistakes.
The Note 8 features a 3,300mAh battery, which you can recharge via the USB Type-C port.
Price and release date
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will be released on 15 September, just after Apple unveils its newest batch of iPhones, but it’s available to pre-order right now.
It costs a whopping £869 – the S8 and S8+ were available for £689 and £779 at launch – which is a lot of money to pay for a smartphone.
However, the Note 8 is shaping up as one of the best around.